DANIA BEACH (CBS4) – Seasonal residents, or snowbirds, are a tradition in South Florida.
But at least a dozen out of town snowbirds in at least two South Florida communities are finding their second homes are being targeted by thieves.
Broward Sheriff’s Investigators showed CBS4 evidence photos of stolen items recovered from a pair of prolific burglars — Albert Fischer and Ramon Caraballo. The pair were arrested in August after a summer of break-ins, BSO says.
Among the items the men are accused of pilfering — flat screen televisions, computers, power tools, jewelry and ammunition.
The pair is charged with breaking into the mobile homes of at least a dozen seasonal residents in Dania Beach. BSO says the communities targeted are Ocean Waterway and Estates of Fort Lauderdale.
Detective Tim Bush say the men may be responsible for many more burglaries.
“Right now we believe that they are responsible for as many as 40 (burglaries),” Bush told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
BSO says the pair struck at night — breaking into empty homes and ransacking the places.
“It’s very unusual,” Bush said. “Usually if somebody breaks into a place they break into one place and they leave. This one — they were staying in this mobile home park for hours.”
And during those hours, Bush says they would go through vacant house after vacant house.
One of the televisions stolen — according to BSO — belongs to the Bertrand’s who live in Quebec. Dolores Bertrand spoke to us by phone and said the hardest part is being so far away when your home has been burglarized.
“It’s not very pleasant but what can we do,” Bertrand said. “We can do nothing.”
Bertrand said the couple is itching to return to South Florida and see how the thieves ransacked their home.
“Everything is turned upside down,” she said.
Harold Allen, president of Ocean Waterway, said the community has added surveillance cameras to keep an eye on things.
“It’s been a shocker this year,” he said. “It’s never happened before.”
BSO says Fischer and Caraballo were caught when a resident reported hearing something suspicious and alerted BSO. Deputies say they caught the men with dozens of stolen items in their vehicle and even more in a Miami-Dade motel room.
Detectives say Fischer confessed to the crimes and said the men broke into the homes to find items to trade or sell for drugs.
“Anything that could be identified, they were selling on the street or trading it for narcotics,” Det. Bush said, adding that Fischer told him both men have a “very large heroin addiction.”
Both men are locked up in the Broward County Jail, facing dozens of criminal charges.
BSO is spreading word about the pair to other police departments to see if the men committed crimes elsewhere.
Detectives suggest seasonal residents take expensive items with them and have someone look in on their property often.